2. The younger Paris, and the more celebrated of the two, lived in the reign of Domitian.
He was originally a native of Egypt (hence called sales Nili
by Martial, 11.13
), and repaired to Rome, where his wonderful skill in pantomimic dances gained him the favour of the public, the love of the profligate Roman matrons, and such influence at the imperial court that he was allowed to promote his creatures to places of high office and trust.
It is stated by the Pseudo-Suetonius, in his life of Juvenal, and by the ancient commentators, that this poet was banished to Egypt on account of his attack upon Paris (7.86-91), but there seems good reason for rejecting this story, as we have shown in the life of Juvenal [JUVENALIS].
The popularity of Paris was at length his ruin. Domitia, the wife of the emperor, fell desperately in love with him; but when Domitian became acquainted with the intrigue, he divorced his wife, and had Paris murdered in the public street. So infuriated was he against the actor, that he even put to death a youth who was a pupil of Paris, merely because he bore a resemblance to his master in form and in skill.
The people deeply deplored the death of their favourite; some strewed the spot where he fell with flowers and perfumes, for which act they were killed by the tyrant; and Martial only expressed the general feeling of the city, when he called him in the epithet (11.13) which he composed in his honour,
"Romani decus et dolor theatri."
(Dio Cass. ]17.3; Suet. Dom. 3
; Juv. 6.82
, and Schol.)